TAMPA, Fla. — Brian Cashman says the Yankees are "not waving any white flag while transitioning" to a younger team.
"We have the potential to be a championship-calibre team," the New York general manager said Thursday. "Listen, if we stay healthy and perform up to expectations, then I think without question we can be a team to be reckoned with and not to be taken lightly."
The Yankees have made just one playoff appearance over the last four years, getting shut out in the 2015 AL wild-card game to Houston. New York has put its future in young players like catcher Gary Sanchez, first baseman Greg Bird, infielder/outfielder Tyler Austin and outfielder Aaron Judge.
"I think we have a lot of exciting, hungry, talented people that obviously have a lot to prove, re-prove or actually start their career by proving they belong," Cashman said." I think that gives a lot of uncertainty but excitement."
"So, that's the balancing act we're taking," Cashman added. "We'll see where it takes us. 2017 has a chance to be a pretty interesting year for us."
Manager Joe Girardi agrees:
"We are in transition, I thought it started at the end of July," Girardi said. "I'm excited about it. I think there's a lot of talent. We're going to get a chance to see it play out. Our goal is to win here, that's the bottom line. For me, let's go win."
To be successful this season, the Yankees will need contributions from veterans like outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has hit just .264 — 33 points below his seven-year average while with Boston — over his three seasons in pinstripes.
"I just think he's got a lot of ability that we certainly have seen in the past," Cashman said. "I still think that there's more in the tank. Hopefully we'll see in 2017 more of that."
When asked about looking ahead toward the next few seasons, Cashman smiled and said "I'm hoping to be here next year."
Cashman is in the final year of his contract.
Chris Carter, who tied for the National League in home runs last season, has finalized a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Yankees.
Carter's career-high 41 home runs last season matched Colorado's Nolan Arenado for tops in the NL. He became a free agent in December when Milwaukee failed to offer a 2017 contract.
"The Chris Carter pursuit was more of, all right, it gives us protection and insurance if certain things don't go the right way," Cashman said.
A first baseman, the 30-year-old Carter is likely to see time at designated hitter.
New guest spring training instructor Alex Rodriguez could be in camp next week. . Dellin Betances is the final player pending in salary arbitration, which runs through Friday, He is seeking $5 million, while the Yankees countered at $3 million. . Opening-day starter Masahiro Tanaka threw a 33-pitch bullpen session.